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Flomax Delivers Most Recalled Drug Ads of 2008-09 TV Season

4 minute read | November 2009

Two commercials for Flomax topped the ranking of the most recalled drug/vaccine ads of the 2008-09 TV season, according to an analysis released today by Nielsen.

The Boehringer-Ingelheim drug, which treats male urinary symptoms due to BPH, offered two creatives last season that were recalled at a rate 42% greater than the average based on all newly-launched prescription drug ads.  These latest installments of Flomax’s direct-to-consumer TV campaign feature men at a baseball game and men playing on a golf course.

“With relevant and consistent visuals that stand out from the rest, the Flomax ads prove that marketers can still be creative and memorable even within the restrictive pharmaceutical category,” said Fariba Zamaniyan, senior vice president at Nielsen IAG, Healthcare.

Most Recalled Prescription Drug/Vaccine Ads – 2008/09 Broadcast TV Season
Rank Brand (Company) Header Ad Length (sec) Recall Index
1 Flomax (Boehringer-Ingelheim) a) Men at baseball game frequent the bathroom as baseball announcer lists male urinary symptoms due to BPH.

b) Men on golf course frequent the bathroom as golf announcer lists male urinary symptoms due to BPH.

45 & 60 142
T2 Cialis (Eli Lilly) What are you waiting for? Men with ED all around the world have used Cialis low dose, daily use now available in addition to 36 hour as various couples are shown in bathtubs on beach and sitting on a couch and on stairs. 60 132
T2 Gardasil (Merck) Moms shown with daughters surfing, shopping, sewing, swimming and talk about getting vaccinated for HPV to prevent cervical cancer. 60 132
3 Pristiq (Wyeth) Woman with wind-up doll says she has to “wind herself up just to get out of bed” because of her depression. 75 128
4 Plavix (Bristol-Myers Squibb / Sanofi-Aventis) Hospital gurney follows man through a museum; if you’ve had a heart attack caused by a completely blocked artery, another heart attack could be lurking. 60 & 75 126
5 Orencia (Bristol Myers Squibb) Woman in blue sweater asks if you’re treating rheumatoid arthritis and still having trouble with everyday things; Orencia Promise Program, ‘Oh, yes I can.’ 75 122
Source: The Nielsen Company

The above data is sourced from Nielsen IAG Ad Performance Tracking Service. Nielsen IAG Ad performance is a sydicated tracking service provided by Nielsen IAG which measures how viewers respond to every commerical running on all broadcast and major cable.The Recall Index is the percentage of TV viewers who can recall within 24 hours the ad they were exposed to and the brand advertised during the normal course of viewing TV. These scores are then indexed against the mean performance for all the new Rx ads launched across this time period.

Data is limited to survey responses among Adults 18+ including response to commercial airings on both sports and non-sports programming within Broadcast prime time, Evening News, Late Night and Syndicated Prime Access (Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Access Hollywood); excludes all 15 second reminder ads; sample minimums applied.

Cialis (Eli Lilly) and Gardasil (Merck) tied for second on the list with 32% greater recall than the average drug ad launched last season. The ad for Cialis, which treats erectile dysfunction in men, was an extension of its “What are you waiting for?” campaign and featured its iconic outdoor tubs and a variety of male and female couples. Gardasil, which guards against cervical cancer and HPV in women, filled its creative with images of moms and their daughters who “chose” to get vaccinated engaging in a variety of activities such as surfing, shopping and swimming.

Wyeth’s “Wind-Up Doll” TV campaign for Pristiq for the treatment of depression “winded up” the top three.  It was the only newcomer at the top of the DTC ranking this past TV season, with a recall index of 128.

A key takeaway from the rankings, said Ms. Zamaniyan, is that DTC advertising is not just successful when symptoms of the ailment treated by the advertised drug are shown.  Any prescription drug ad, she says, can still be memorable without the display of symptoms and still  connect with the audience while staying within FDA guidelines.

“The bar for creativity shouldn’t be lower for pharma because of the regulations in place,” Zamaniyan argues. “In fact,  it should be higher given the level of investment and volume of competitive activity on the airwaves.” 

Nielsen’s recall index is limited to responses among adults 18+ who correctly recalled the storyline of the ads they were exposed to within 24 hours after airing. Only ads airing during entertainment and sports programs on the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW) on Broadcast prime time,  Evening News, Late Night and Syndicated Prime Access (Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Access Hollywood) were included in the ranking.  The ads are measured at comparable media weight to control for differing weight levels across the campaigns.

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